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In the last year or so, I have heard of more lawsuits against insurers than I can ever remember. Do you think we will see more in the future?

The industry is definitely frustrated with the current challenges and feels its expertise has been dismissed by many insurers. Any time an economic engine becomes the driving force in a servicing industry, the risk of lawsuits or class action suits escalates. Collision repairers have subsequently faced a tremendous challenge with regards to integrity without risking cash flow in day-to-day transactions.

Regardless of whether collision repairers have become involved in direct repair programs or not, owners are being told that certain line items—such as towing, sublet or administrative labor—do not deserve a return. Administrative costs continue to escalate, for instance, but are being called the “cost of doing business.”

We need to continue our efforts in creating industry standards, which CIC committees have been working on for years, and give credit to carriers working toward the same goal. As an industry, emphasis needs to revert back to the question “Is this a proper repair?” and proceed only if the answer is “Yes.” That answer needs to come from the experts in the trade, the repairers, in addition to information supplied from the OEMs.

There is a huge difference between “containing costs” and “cutting costs,” and the latter is what is causing the lawsuits. Perhaps some of these offending carriers will take a step forward in 2010 and let the collision repairer fix the vehicle properly and cost effectively.

Ray Fisher is the president of ASA-Michigan. This article represents his opinion and does not reflect the views of ASA-Michigan.

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